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Luigi Rubino, Beniamino Guida, Pompeo Marino and Alberto Cavallo

Second University of Naples

luigi.rubino@unina2.it, beniamino.guida@unina2.it, pompeo.marino@unina2.it, alberto.cavallo@unina2.it

Reference topic: Power Electronics Converter Topologies and Control

Abstract- This document aims to describe a rigorous approach to

correctly select the optimal turns ratio for a transformer

involved in an isolated DC/DC boost full bridge converter

realization, considering the input/output voltage ranges, the

modulation scheme adopted and the efficiency constraints. The

topological structure is first introduced, outlining the hardware

components used. The step-down (or Buck) and step-up (or

Boost) modulations are then briefly discussed, focusing mainly

on the input/output relations in both operative modes. These

equations are assumed as the starting point for the core

discussion of this paper, about the selection of the transformer

turns ratio. The problem is approached independently first in

Buck mode, then in Boost mode. In particular, the ideal situation

is first considered, introducing then a corrective factor for

taking into account the dissipative losses due to parasitical

effects. Finally, the partial results obtained are merged in a

conclusive phase, where a single turns ratio have to be chosen

due to the bi-directionality of the converter. The methodology

proposed has been successfully tested in SABER simulative

environment, before the realization phase; measurements on the

real converter evidence the correctness of the proposed

approach, arising as a general procedure to select a transformer

involved in DC/DC conversion strategy, in the context of a boost

full bridge topology.

I. INTRODUCTION

The authors were involved in a task of the project in order to

design and realize an high performances [1],[2] boost full

bridge dc-dc converter. This last is a 12kW bi-directional

buck boost converter unit (BBCU) that interfaces two dc

networks with high voltage difference.

The low side voltage (LVDC) is 28V and the high side

voltage (HVDC) is 270V. The converter operates in two

modes: Buck or step-down, when it converts a higher into a

lower DC voltage, or Boost (step-up), if it works conversely.

The normal operation condition of the converter is the buck

mode in order to keep charged the battery on 28V bus. If

power demand came from high voltage bus, the converter is

able to switch in boost mode and supply the high voltage

bus.

In design phase for boost full bridge topology converters [3],

the transformer role in the conversion process aforementioned

is critical and requires special attention. In fact, an erroneous

transformer sizing leads to incorrect power electronic

components choices, obtaining as a global effect the

unfulfillment of the required specifications.

Several aspects have to be considered in optimal turns ratio

selection, and a trade-off is necessary referring to various

constraints hereafter reported:

- Output voltage within acceptable range, despite to input

voltage instantaneous value (however included in a selected

range) as required by well-known standards [4],[5].

- Duty cycle values in the neighborhood of the maximum

efficiency point, depending on the operative mode.

- Reduced size and weight, in order to facilitate the

integration of the converter in applications where the

equipment compactness is a main target (e.g. aeronautical).

The presented paper introduces a general criterion to select an

optimal turns ratio for transformers involved in boost full

bridge converters, referring to the main objectives

abovementioned during the exposition of the selection

process.

II. TRANSFORMER ROLE IN DC/DC CONVERTER MODULE

The DC/DC converter overall scheme is reported in Fig. 1.

LVDC

GND

HVDC

GND

R1

C1

L1

L2

L3

L4

LV1

LV2

LV3

LV4

HV1

HV2

HV3

HV4

R2

R3

C2

L5 DC/DC

DC/DC

DC/DC

DC/DC

Fig. 1 Scheme of the DC/DC converter

In the schematic the single BBCU modules are highlighted.

As shown in Fig. 1, the blocks are connected in PIPO mode

978-1-4244-7919-1/10/$25.00 2010 IEEE

SPEEDAM 2010

International Symposium on Power Electronics,

Electrical Drives, Automation and Motion

39

[1],[6], linking the modules in parallel both on HV side and

on the LV side.

A single full bridge internal structure is reported in Fig. 2.

LVi

GND

HVi

GND

S1

R2a

C2a

R1a

C1a

R4a

C4a

R3a

C3a

P1

R2b

C2b

R1b

C1b

S2

S3

S4

R4b

C4b

R3b

C3b

P2

P3

P4

Fig. 2 Single converter module

The switches of both the full-bridges are controlled in two

different ways, depending on the mode of operation and on

duty-cycle value.

In both operative modes, two independent PWM signals

produced by FPGA are synchronized in order to obtain 180

phase shift [3].

When the duty-cycle is less than 0.5, the modulation ensures

a path for the eddy current on the primary of the transformer.

In the step-up mode, i.e. with a duty-cycle greater than 0.5,

there is a phase in the switch period in which all the switches

of the full-bridge are closed, as a necessary condition to

guarantee the boost condition.

In both modes, the voltage on the primary of the transformer

looks similar to the waveform obtained using a voltage

cancellation technique, [7] as shown in the next figure.

4 5 6 7 8 9 10

x 10

-5

-400

-200

0

200

400

time [s]

A

V

[

V

]

Fig. 3 Typical input waveform to the transformer

To perform step-down and step-up conversions on the same

hardware, an unique turns ratio has to be selected and certain

constraints on the output voltage range and on efficiency have

to be satisfied. It is necessary to point out that the best choice

in one mode is often a non-optimal solution for the other

mode; the sizing criterion illustrated in Section III offers a

solution to select a satisfactory turns ratio value in both step-

up or step-down modes.

III. OPTIMAL TURNS RATIO SELECTION: PRELIMINARY

CONSIDERATIONS

A) Boost mode

The relationship (at steady state and in CCM mode) between

input voltage, output voltage and duty cycle in step-up mode

is well known in literature for a boost full-bridge, and

reported as follows:

) 1 ( 2 o

=

k

V

V

i

O

(1)

where

i

V is the input voltage (LV side),

o

V the output

voltage (HV side), k is the turns ratio and o the duty cycle.

From (1) immediately follows the turns ratio definition:

( ) o I = 1 2 k (2)

where

i

o

V

V

= I

. The selection problem is well-posed if the

acceptable ranges for both input and output voltages are

defined. Without loss of generality, it is possible to assume

[20-30] V as low-voltage values, and [260-280] V for high

side; these ranges are established referring to aeronautical

field applications.

Considering the parameter I , follows that | | 14 6 . 8 e I . In

boost full bridge converters, a typical duty cycle o range

is | | 8 . 0 5 . 0 ; the two-variable function (2), assuming the

abovementioned constraints on the domain values, is

graphically solved as follows:

Fig. 4 Turns ratio vs. duty and I parameter

40

As evident, the k value lies between 4

min

= k and

14

max

= k . To obtain this result the power losses are not

considered, leading to an ideal case. For this reason, a

corrective factor has to be introduced in (2) as follows:

( )

o

1

1 2 I = k

(3)

If the transformer is well manufactured, it is sufficient to

select 9 . 0 = to obtain a reasonable oversizing margin.

It is now possible to solve (3) for the lower and upper duty

cycle bounds, respectively 5 . 0

min

= o and 8 . 0

max

= o ,

solving the equations system next stated:

( )

( )

I >

I s

o

1

1 2

1

1 2

max max

min min

k

k

(4)

These inequality can be represented as in the next figure:

Fig. 5 Turns ratio for maximum and minimum duty cycles

where all the solutions lies in the highlighted area of the

graph. The solution range, at the moment, is extremely wide;

since it depends on the maximum and minimum duty cycle

value, as evident in Fig. 5, is possible to reduce the area by

considering only the optimal operative points. In fact, for a

boost full bridge converter operating in boost mode, the

efficiency in terms of amount of electrical power available at

the high-voltage terminals is non-linearly related to the duty

cycle, and beyond a critical value it collapses. A typical

efficiency graph for the outlined topology is next reported:

Fig. 6 Efficiency of boost full bridge converter in Boost mode

measured on the prototype realized with k=6

For this reason 6 . 0

min_

=

opt

o and 77 . 0

max_

=

opt

o are

selected as new duty cycle range. Note that the reference

graph in Fig. 6 will be justified and replaced by a set of

experimental measurements in the last section of this paper.

Consequently, the equation set (4) can be solved obtaining the

following results:

>

s

14 . 7

63 . 7

k

k

(5)

B) Buck mode

It is possible to repeat the same steps of Boost mode to obtain

the inequalities system as in (5). For step-down mode, the

relationship between input and output voltage with respect to

the duty cycle is:

o 2

k

V

V

i

o

= (6)

For Buck case, the output voltage range is [27,30] V and the

input is [260,280] V. Rewriting (6) in a more convenient

form:

o I = 2 k (7)

where | | 4 . 10 6 . 8 e = I

o

i

V

V

.

Exactly as in the following paragraph, selecting 1 . 1 = a

reasonable oversizing margin is guaranteed. Again, the turns

ratio formula is rewritten as:

Efficiency vs. duty cycle

81

82

83

84

85

86

87

88

0,74 0,75 0,76 0,77 0,78

41

o I = 2 k (8)

A graph similar to Fig. 5 can be derived from relation (8), and

is next reported:

2 4 6 8 10 12

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

I

k

o

min

o

MAX

Fig. 7 Turns ratio for maximum and minimum duty cycles

The turns ratio is now directly proportional to the duty cycle;

the inequalities system to be considered follows:

I s

I >

o

o

max max

min min

2

2

k

k

(9)

Also for Buck mode it is possible to consider an optimal duty

range to maximize the efficiency; typical values for the

outlined converter topology are 35 . 0

min_

=

opt

o and

48 . 0

max_

=

opt

o . Then the system (9) is solved as follows:

s

>

08 . 11

68 . 6

k

k

(10)

Comparing (5) and (10), the overlapping of the sustainable

values for k parameter in both modes is evident, leading to (5)

as the unique solution for the turns ratio selection problem.

Following the outlined approach, a turns ratio of 5 . 7 = k

has been selected for the equipment under study.

IV. KEY POINTS ON OPTIMAL TURNS RATIO SELECTION

The preliminary study phase of Sec. III has led to relation

(5) and (10), and following to the selection of 7.5 as an

optimal turns ratio for the converter under study. These

results have to be confirmed and refined with a further phase,

taking into account also the experimental results. The

efficiency depends on the transformer power losses, which

can vary due to the modulation frequency. In fact, is well

known that exists a frequency range where the transformer

magnetic core behavior is more efficient in terms of heat

losses. The considerations of Sec. III about the optimal duty

cycle range can be confirmed (or refined) by simulations and

further calculations, taking into account the frequency effect

on the transformer conversion process.

Furthermore, the switching elements in both full bridges of

the converter are not ideal. In particular, the power losses

linked to these elements will decrease the overall efficiency,

and it is possible to find a direct relationship with the duty

cycle. Considering together this new equation and the already

obtained, the duty cycle optimal range can be refined and the

optimal turns ratio updated.

V. SIMULATIONS AND EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS

Once selected an optimal turn ratio k, simulations and

measurements on the real equipment have to be performed in

order to validate the selection strategy. A dedicated

transformer has been realized for the application. In order to

reduce iron losses, ferrite cores without air-gap have been

used; incidentally, note that a ferrite core is characterized by a

maximum value of magnetic induction before saturation. The

ferrite material, the core size, the number of turns, and the

switching frequency were chosen so that the transformer is

able to work within its linear region, at any operative

conditions.

Fig. 8 Prototype of a 3 kW single cell

Each cell has been tested at full power in both modes (step

up/down). The next figure shows the voltage across the

primary and secondary of the transformer, and the current

ripple in the boost inductor of a module.

-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5

x 10

-5

-500

-250

0

250

500

V

H

[

V

]

-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5

x 10

-5

-100

-50

0

50

100

V

L

[

V

]

-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5

x 10

-5

-20

0

20

M 10 s

c

u

r

r

e

n

t

r

i

p

p

l

e

[

A

]

Fig. 9 Measured waveform under step-up mode operation with

V

L

=20V, V

O

=270V, P=3kW, k=7.5

42

Two different prototypes of transformer have been tested,

(k=6, 7.5) and several test critical conditions (i.e. maximum

output voltage required vs. minimum input voltage available)

have been planned .Experimental results show that in step-up

mode efficiency of the module drops down when k=6, due to

the high value of the duty cycle and consequent high losses of

the switches. In step-down mode, both prototypes show an

elevate efficiency value, so the best choice between the turns

ratio hypothesis is k=7.5; the next figure shows the correct

response of the converter in boost mode, under different

loads, where the transduced input current (61 A/V) is reported

in yellow, in blue is the HV output voltage and in magenta

the LV input voltage is shown.

.

Fig. 10 Final test of the converter in boost mode, with different

steps of load (1/3, 2/3, full power).

VI. CONCLUSION

An optimal selection procedure has been discussed, in order

to calculate a correct turn ratio of a transformer involved in

boost/full bridge bidirectional converters realization. The

results have been first validated in a simulative environment,

and successively during a second testing phase, where a real

hardware equipment has been adopted to show the

compliance between simulative results and real

measurements. Both tests confirm the correct choice of the

turn ratio.

Due to the increasing interest of the scientific community

about even more specific converters, in order to manage bi-

directional power flows, the need of a methodical approach

for transformers turns ratio selection arises.

For this reason, it is important to evidence that, without loss

of generality, it is possible to repeat the same steps for

optimal turns ratio selection referring to a generic DC/DC

isolated full bridge converter, starting from the requirements

and taking into account its constitutive relationships.

VII. REFERENCES

[1] Siri K., Willhoff M.A., Uniform Current/Voltage-Sharing for

Interconnected DC-DC Converters, Proc. 2007 IEEE Aerospace

Conference, Piscataway (NJ), March 2007, pp. 1-17.

[2] Q. Zhao, F. C. Lee, High-efficiency, high step-up dc-dc converters,

IEEE Trans. Power Electron., vol. 18, no.1, pp. 65-73, Jan 2003.

[3] X. Jiang, X. Wen, H. Xu , Study on Isolated Full Bridge Converter in

FCEV, Proc. 7th International Power Engineering Conference,

Singapore (Ch), Dec. 2005, Vol.2, pp. 827-830

[4] MIL-STD-704F, Dpt. Of Defense Interface standard, 2004.

[5] ABD0100.1.8, AIRBUS standard, 2002

[6] D.J. Perreault, J.G. Kassakian, Distributed Interleaving of Paralleled

Power Converters, IEEE Trans. On Circuits and Systems, Vol. 44, No.

8, pp. 728734, 1997.

[7] N. Mohan, T. Undeland, W. Robbins, Power Electronics - Converters,

Applications and Design, Second Ed., John Wiley & Sons, New York,

1995.

43

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